Biological Invasions

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 1439–1449 | Cite as

International news media framing of invasive rodent eradications

  • R. X. ValdezEmail author
  • M. N. Peterson
  • E. A. Pitts
  • J. A. Delborne
Original Paper


Invasive rodents threaten global island biodiversity and have been eradicated from hundreds of islands. Eradication efforts can be contentious due to animal welfare concerns and risk to non-target species. The news media plays a critical role by providing context for eradications. To better understand how the news media frame invasive rodent eradications, we conducted a thematic content analysis of 462 newspaper articles published in newspapers from 13 countries between 1993 and 2014. Although the media typically frames environmental stories as conflicts between stakeholders, the media tended to use “conquest frames” for rodent eradications. Articles often emphasized key elements of the conquest frame, including recast rules and norms, being on frontiers, positioning heroes against nature, creating drama by questioning the success of heroes, orienting towards the future, and positioning the audience as an awestruck witness. We detected international differences for some themes. Articles from Canada and Australia often included costs of eradication, articles from New Zealand were less likely to include endemic species, and articles from the United States were most likely to include conflict. Our results suggest that unique aspects of rodent eradications may encourage conquest framing, and cultural contexts of place shape framing between countries. We conclude that conquest framing by the media has largely supported rodent eradication efforts on islands, but that may change when new eradication methods are developed or when eradications are planned for islands with human populations.


News media analysis Invasive rodents Framing Conquest framing 



We would like to thank Jennifer Kuzma and John Godwin for their helpful feedback during the drafting of this manuscript.


Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation (Grant No. 1068676).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology ProgramNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Genetic Engineering and Society CenterNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  3. 3.Department of EnglishUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  4. 4.Department of Forestry and Environmental ResourcesNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  5. 5.Virginia Department of Game and Inland FisheriesHenricoUSA

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